Kohima: Nagaland’s capital Kohima is now batting to promote “fitness” culture in the race to becoming a smart city. As the Kohima Smart City Development Limited (KSCDL) continues to advocate for pedestrian-friendly streets, this time, it converted a parking lot in the heart of Kohima town to an open-air zumba and aerobic studio-like-space.

Initiated under the Streets for People Challenge, the open air Zumba and aerobic session was organized by the KSCDL in collaboration with De Operettas Music Institute, held at Old NST from 7 AM to 8 AM on Friday morning.

KSCDL Joint CEO Avelu Ruho told EastMojo that the workout session was conducted with the hope to “promote a culture of fitness”.

“This is part of the streets for people challenge and the concept is to convey that streets are not only for cars or parking. We should make space for pedestrians and this is a pilot location where we have started and we are hoping to scale up,” she said.

A zumba and aerobics session in progress in Kohima

In November last year, the KSCDL had initiated a pop-up event in the same area, converting the usual car parking area to a street space. She said that the “pilot location” was chosen as a test design towards making it a “permanent walking plaza”.

“We are facing a lot of criticisms for removing this parking space. But, we are also trying to put across the message that streets are also for pedestrians and citizens. We need to share our street spaces,” the officer said.

A parking space that was converted into a pedestrian-friendly walkway in Kohima

Revealing that the Kohima Smart City has received permission from the Regional Transport Authority, she said: “We will look forward to this stretch getting extended. We do not want to shock the citizens by removing all the parking spaces, so we are doing it phase-wise. Hopefully, people will also start appreciating.”

She added that the street for people challenge started along with the cycles for change, where recently Kohima made it to the list of India’s Top 11 Cycling Pioneers, receiving an award of Rs 1 crore to promote cycling activities.

As the initiatives came in the wake of the pandemic, she added: “We noticed that very few people walk nowadays, and we don’t get enough fresh air, or enough exercise. So, we hope that this will be a start for the culture of fitness in our society.”

Adonu Khamo, 29, who was one of the three fitness instructors leading the session, said: “Exercise is really important. Stretching and warming up in the morning for relieving stress. It keeps us fit and we become more productive during the day”.

Reacting to the smart city’s initiative of converting parking lot to walking plazas, she said “It is really cool. Instead of parking cars here, making it accessible for people to walk, have fun, hang out and have good time will be amazing. The space now is big enough and it will be a very good to carry on with this idea”.

Although the number of participants who turned up for the session was limited, the pedestrians, people passing by through vehicles and the shopkeepers who began to open their shops, all had their eyes glued on the session, which happened by the roadside.

“People [who noticed] seemed amazed. Some looked like they wanted to join. I think there will be more people joining us and opening up next time,” she optimistically said. The fitness instructor then added that open sessions like this also give opportunity to know more people and overcome shyness.

Sentinaro, a resident from Kohima who also joined the session expressed saying “I came here to join as a spectator but I ended up participating. I feel very good. Initially I was very shy but once I got into the movement, I was confident and happy to be a part of it”.

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De Operettas Music Institute MD Sürhüveyi Testseo appreciated the team of Kohima Smart City for creating a recreational space for its citizens. “When we were younger, we had lots of space to play around. But with developmental activities, we do not have much space although many people now are more health conscious,” he said.

To this, he added that the music studio also created a fitness studio in the institute providing workout sessions. He expressed hope for the Smart city team to organize more of such open fitness sessions in the days to come.

With the collaboration, the smart city also made a proposal to the De Operettas Music institute to utilize the particular stretch in Kohima town to conduct its fitness sessions for a month, and at the same time make the sessions accessible to the public for free.



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